The Food Standards Agency ensures that food safety is given priority during the authorisation and monitoring of pesticides.
The Chemical Regulation Directorate (CRD) is responsible for UK policy on pesticides, so the Agency monitors the activities of the CRD in relation to food and makes sure that the expert committees that give advice about pesticides take full account of the public's concerns about the safety of food.
The Agency accepts the use of pesticides in the production of food as long as:
- regulatory bodies follow a precautionary approach when approving the use of pesticides
- independent scientific advice says that the safety of pesticides is within acceptable limits
- acceptable levels can be set for residues in food
- enough good-quality information is available to the regulatory bodies on which to base these decisions
We believe that consumers have a right to expect that any residues that occur in foods should:
- not be harmful
- be as low as practically possible, even if higher levels would still be safe
The Chemical Regulation Directorate (CRD) is an Agency of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). It is responsible for registration and approval of plant protection products used in agriculture, horticulture and in gardens in Britain. Parallel regulatory arrangements are in place in Northern Ireland.
The CRD's main functions are to:
- provide controls on pesticides used in agriculture, horticulture and in the garden
- regulate pesticides in accordance with national and European guidelines
- put in place and operate monitoring programmes for residues in food
- actively monitor the marketing and use of pesticides, and take enforcement action where illegal activity arises. Responsibility for enforcement is shared between the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), local authorities and the Agriculture Departments in the UK
- provide policy advice to Ministers
The CRD also provides the secretariat for the independent Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP), that advises on the control of pesticides and the Pesticide Residues Committee (PRC), which oversees a programme to monitor the UK food and drink supply for pesticide residues.
The CRD works closely with the Food Standards Agency to protect consumer interests in relation to food safety and standards. Its aim is to ensure the safe use of pesticides for people and the environment. Part of this involves minimising potential impacts of pesticides by encouraging best practice and the development and introduction of alternative pest-control methods.
The CRD is responsible for plant protection products used in situations including:
- horticulture (such as greenhouses, parklands)
- agriculture (such as food crops)
- forestry (such as on trees)
- home garden (such as houseplants, garden plants and lawns)
- in or near water (such as river banks to control weeds)
- vertebrate control agents (used to protect plants)
- industrial herbicides (e.g. for land that needs to be kept clear of weeds but which will not be used to grow food)
The advertisement, sale, supply, storage and use of any pesticide is prohibited by law unless Ministers have approved the pesticide. Maximum residue levels (MRLs) in various crops and food products are specified in regulations. You can find out more about pesticide regulations on the CRD website.